At 12 Noon on 5th August 2016 the XXXI Olympiad will commence in Rio de Janeiro, the first South American city to host the Summer Olympics. It will be 4 years since I was a GamesMaker at London 2012 in that lovely red, purple and grey uniform. The memories are flooding back. The Olympics was hard work – 13 hour shifts starting at 6am or finishing around midnight, rubbish food and wet, cold days. By comparison the Paralympics were relaxed, fun and hot. The shifts were still long but it was much more fun. I was at the Riverbank Arena for both the Olympics (Hockey) and Paralympics (7 a side football and blind football).
In Rio it is expected that 206 Nations will qualify and 10,500 Athletes will participate in 306 events in 28 sports. Kosovo and South Sudan will be competing for the first time. India will be sending approximately 68 Athletes to compete in 26 events in 6 sports (archery, athletics, hockey, shooting, wrestling and artistic gymnastics).
In 2012, India was the worst performer (ie last) in terms of medal points per million of population. For a country with a population of 1.2 billion and a $2 trillion economy that’s a pretty shocking performance. Even when you calculate medal points to GDP, India comes in 4th from last only ahead of Hong Kong, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. (Of course that’s better than winning none at all.) Why does India perform so badly? Well, the sports budget might have something to do with it – 8p (8INR) per Indian. That’s pretty poor by anyone’s standards. Source: Times of India
London 2012 was India’s best ever performance at an Olympics with 2 Silver and 4 Bronze medals but that equates to less than 0.01 medal per million of population. Compare that with Jamaica with 8.86 medals per million of population – Usain Bolt will have certainly helped with that tally.
India does well in individual sports such as tennis, badminton, shooting, archery, wrestling and boxing. For an individual Indian sports person to do well they must do so in spite of the system not because of it. Those who have done well have done so through their own hard work and the support of sponsors and not the state. It not a situation likely to change in Rio either with little government spending on creating sporting infrastructures and facilities for mass participation.
Dipa Karmaker – history maker
In 2016 India will be sending Dipa Karmaker to Rio to compete in artistic gymnastics. She will be the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympic Games. She qualified on the 17th April after winning the gold medal in the vaults final of the qualifier – the first Indian woman to win gold in a global gymnastics event. She is also the first Indian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics in 52 years (the last time men competed was in Tokyo in 1964 but there was no qualification system in place at the time).
I’ll be watching
I shall be watching (if I can from here) the women’s hockey with great enthusiasm- India are in the same group as Team GB. Come on England!